Greg Hurley keeps his head to tame wild and wonderful student finale at The Home of Golf
R&A: Friday, April 8th
FORMAT: 54-hole stableford
It was survival of the fittest at the R&A Student Series Final in Scotland this week where Hertfordshire’s Greg Hurley defied the elements and an international field to win the illustrious title by one shot.
“Brutal” weather dogged all three days at St Andrews Links and Dumbarnie Links with Hurley holding off the back-nine challenge of Sweden’s Jesper Littorin on the Castle course.
The Hertfordshire golfer’s stand-out victory meant he finished the Europe-wide Order of Merit in third with the top three separted by just five points. Ireland’s David Kitt (Athenry) went into the series finale with an 87-point lead and just hung on after finishing tied for 18th at the Home of Golf.
For Hurley there was huge satisfaction regarding the manner in which he managed his game across all three days and claimed the biggest victory of his life.
“The weather brutal for three days,” said Hurley.
“I am ok if its windy but on day two it just rained from about the fourth onwards and didn’t stop.
“However I was really pleased with the way I controlled my emotions and kept my head in the right place. Previously, when I got myself into trouble, I wouldn’t have had the discipline to take my medicine.
“Wedge play is the strongest part of my game so if I did miss off the tee, I just kept trying to give myself a chance by leaving myself between 75 and 120 yards and then wedging it close.”
The third-year University of Stirling student started the final round on the Castle course level with Littorin but, with eight holes to go, was four clear on the back of three birdies. The last of those came at the par three tenth where he went back under par for his round with a stunning two at the 185-yarder, drilling a five iron to two-and-a-half feet.
However the Swedish golfer wasn’t done and the gap was halved as he birdied 15 while Hurley bogeyed it.
However Littorin then bogeyed 17 to give the Englishman a two-shot cushion and a birdie at the last for the Swede wasn’t enough to make up the gap.
The Jubillee course hosted the first round and Hurley was the only member of the 45-strong field to break 70. Despite the high winds he made a remarkable six birdies, helped by a 35-foot hole-out at the first and a 50-foot bomb at the tenth. The one blemish – a double bogey at the seventh – came on the back of the 21-year-old failing to find his tee shot despite narrowly missing the fairway. His four-under 68 left him two ahead of Ireland’s Ryan Griffin (70), the only other player to reak par.
Griffin would fall away during the rain-sodden middle round (Dumbarmie Links) but Littorin joined Hurley at the top thanks to a second-round 69 while Roddy McAuley (Fereneze) went bogey free on his way to a stunning five-under-par 67 and he would start the final round just one back.
However the Scottish player, like Littorin, was three over for his front nine on the Castle course and couldn’t make up the ground on soon-to-be-champion Hurley.